Mumbai-based businessman Salim Sabuwala and high-profile lawyer Janhavi Gadkar were both out celebrating on Tuesday but the day ended very differently for them.
The Audi Q3 driven by an inebriated Gadkar at a speed of more than 120kmph slammed into the taxi in which Saboonwala’s family was travelling early on Tuesday morning, killing the businessman and the driver. Four others were injured, including Saboonwala’s wife Hafeeza.
Gadkar, who escaped with a few bruises as her car’s airbag deployed, was driving on the wrong side of the Eastern Freeway. The 35-year-old vice-president of the legal team with Reliance Industries Limited was returning to her home in Chembur after a night out with two friends at a south Mumbai hotel to celebrate a corporate deal.
Saboonwala’s family was returning from dinner at a hotel in Bhiwandi to celebrate the 90% secured by his 16-year-old son Noman in the SSC examination, the results of which were announced on Monday.
Advocate Janhavi Ajit Gadkar's Audo Q3 rammed into a taxi on the Eastern Freeway. (Kunal Patil/HT photo)
Police officials confirmed Gadkar was drunk at the time of the accident. They said a test had confirmed the presence of alcohol in her blood. This was reportedly the first drunk driving accident on the 17km freeway that opened in June 2013 and connects the eastern suburbs with south Mumbai.
"She drove on the wrong side of the road from the start of the freeway and, around 1am, she crashed into a taxi at Shivaji Nagar near Chembur," said Jivajirao Jadhav, assistant commissioner of police for Trombay division.
Gadkar, who drove on the wrong side of the road for almost 10km, was charged with rash driving and culpable homicide not amounting to murder and sent to police custody.
The impact of the crash was so severe that the entire front of the taxi was crushed, instantly killing its 57-year-old driver, Mohamed Sayyed.
Saboonwala, 50, suffered grave injuries and was taken to Sion hospital, where he died. His wife Hafeeza is in the ICU with three fractures while Saboonwala’s daughters Sadiya and Salma too were injured.
Just before the accident, two motorists narrowly escaped colliding with Gadkar’s car moving in the wrong direction. "The motorists had taken a U-turn to stop her. But before they could catch up, she crashed into the taxi," said Jadhav.
Being a woman, Gadkar could not be arrested at night and was asked to leave the police station. She was formally arrested at sunrise and produced in a local court that remanded her in police custody for a day, said a police official.
Gadkar told police she left south Mumbai around 10 pm but stopped on Marine Drive and sat in her car for about two hours before resuming her journey home around 12.30 am.
The police said Gadkar was saved by her Audi’s airbag.
The impact of the crash so severe that the entire front of the taxi was crushed, killing its driver, Mohamed Sayyed, on the spot. (Kunal Patil/HT photo)